Yes, it’s true, Valentine’s Day has come and gone once again, but great dates and fun, new restaurant experiences don’t have to come to a halt. In fact, now you can surprise your significant other or a friend with a tour from Littleton-based restaurant tour company, Culinary Connectors, and get major bonus points—you’re welcome. This past weekend I took it upon myself to try out Culinary Connectors’ Denver Top Restaurant Tour to see what it was like (twist my arm) and was pleasantly surprised by my experience.
My boyfriend and I arrived in Cherry Creek at 1:35 p.m. and promptly joined eight other restaurant seekers, our tour guide, Rebecca Pasquariello, who raises organic, grass-fed beef in the Gunnison Valley, and a driver in a van. Our first stop was Ambria, a restaurant on the 16th Street Mall that prides itself on its Mediterranean-inspired American cuisine. By offering many small plates and the option to have half-glasses of wine, Ambria makes it easy to try different cuisines and wines. First we tried a mouth-watering Butternut Squash & Sweet Red Pepper Soup with a side Raw Carrot Salad and a Zinfandel wine. Our second course consisted of a Seared Sea Scallop and Fried Brussels Sprouts dressed in a 12-year-aged balsamic vinegar. The contents of the plate were immediately consumed along with the fruity Riesling that accompanied the dish. Our “dessert” was a piece of Chamomile Pain Perdu, similar to French toast and arguably equally if not more delicious, which can be found on Ambria’s Weekend Brunch menu. We washed down the Chamomile Pain Perdu with a crisp, sweet glass of Moscato. Feeling already much fuller than when we arrived, we left LoDo and made our way over to South Broadway.
We walked into Beatrice & Woodsley like we were walking into a cabin in the woods. Beautifully decorated with amber-tinted windows, real (but not living) aspen trees, and bar shelves with chainsaws in them, the ambiance of the restaurant is unbeatable. Our group tried a Crab & Crawfish Fondue complete with a toasted brioche and an Herbed Blini with confit duck and smoked onion jam paired with a Riesling wine. The delectable Fondue seemed to melt in my mouth. I left having wanted to try more items on Beatrice & Woodsley’s menu because I was so impressed.
Our final spot, Second Home, in Cherry Creek did not disappoint. Our first of three dishes was a “Bacon + Eggs” combo with gnocchi sprinkled with pancetta and a soft-poached egg. As a self-proclaimed gnocchi connoisseur, I was amazed by the perfectly cooked pasta. To match the breakfast-ish theme, we were served a Maple Old Fashioned—an absolutely dangerous drink because it is so drinkable. In preparation for Mardi Gras, our next dishes were of Louisiana origin: Jambalaya with chicken, ham, shrimp, and, of course, andouille sausage, amongst other ingredients, and Beignets served with a caramel-bacon dipping sauce. The Jambalaya was received with a sweet Hurricane cocktail and the Beignets came with an Irish coffee-esk “Cozy Coffee” made with Bacardi 151, Grand Marnier, and Kahlua. Group members who are very familiar with Louisiana cuisine even gave their unanimous approval of the Jambalaya. While bacon-caramel sauce may at first sound unappealing, it may be one of the best sauces created—needless to say, I wouldn’t recommend eating it every day, but everyone should try it out.
Three restaurants, many small plates, and a few drinks later—as well as probably a smudge or two of lingering Beignet powdered sugar—we were finished with our, if I may say so, very successful Culinary Connectors’ Denver Top Restaurant Tour. Thank goodness we came hungry…and thirsty.
Interested in Touring?
Culinary Connectors offers Top Restaurant Tours and Neighborhood Walking Tours in Denver, Boulder, and Aspen and independent, Self-Guided Culinary tours in Denver and Boulder. Foodies can also join in on Supper Clubs, which take place on the first Tuesday of the month in Denver and the second Tuesday in Boulder.
1201 16th Street
Beatrice & Woodsley
38 South Broadway
150 Clayton Lane